Reasons you are NOT Building Muscle
1. You are doing too much cardio and not enough resistance training
Cardio can actually decrease your muscle mass if performed too often and also not done correctly. If you’re doing excessive amounts of low-intensity cardio (>3 days a week), you’re also likely not engaging in any strength training which preserves what muscle you already have AND promotes the growth of new muscle. On average, if you want to maintain your muscle mass as much as possible, do cardio 1-2 times a week (max 3) for 20-40 minutes. In addition, engage in resistance training 2-3 times a week, however, this depends on the type of training you choose and can vary per person so ask your personal trainer for more personalized guidelines.
2. There is too much stress in your life
Emotional stress greatly affects our mental, social, and physical well-being. It can trigger a number of unhealthy habits, such as under eating or overeating of “comfort food” leading to changes in your weight and muscle composition. Chronic stress can also throw your hormones off balance leading to a decrease in testosterone levels and elevated levels of cortisol affecting energy levels and inhibiting muscle development. Try to find balance in life and time for self-care relaxation activities such as yoga, meditation, or taking a bubble bath.
3. You are experiencing poor sleep on a consistent basis
Similar to the points above about stress, lack of sleep can cause decreased testosterone levels and spikes of cortisol, the stress hormone. Another hormone to mention here is human growth hormone (GH). GH is released under conditions of sleep. Around 65% of its daily secretion occurs during the deepest sleep cycle. GH is a key player in muscle growth as it stimulates proliferation of myoblasts (muscle fiber cells), amino acid uptake, and protein synthesis in muscle. Moreover, lack of sleep can make you feel fatigued and exhausted, thus making it challenging to perform vigorous physical activity or to even find the motivation to exercise at all. Consequently, without movement and strength training, you cannot build muscle.
4. You are avoiding calories and don’t eat enough
Your muscles require nutrients to grow. If you aren’t eating enough, your body will use calories to sustain basic bodily needs and energy thereby diverting the energy use away from muscle repair and growth.
5. You are not consuming enough protein on a daily basis
Protein is made up of amino acids. Eating a full spectrum of amino acids is highly beneficial to your muscle-building goals. Amino acids are the building blocks for your muscles, and without them, you cannot build, repair, or maintain muscle mass. The daily recommended intake of protein for a goal of muscle building is 1-1.2g per pound of body weight (up to 1.5g for males). For example, if you weigh 150lbs, you could aim to consume 150g- 180g of protein daily. Some good sources of protein include grass-fed beef, free-range chicken & eggs, organic dairy, wild caught fish, nuts and seeds.